Illustration of Ancient Buildings of Kashmir by Henry Hardy Cole,1870.
TITLE Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir 
AUTHOR  Henry Hardy Cole
PUBLICATION  Indian Museum, London
TOTAL No. OF ILLUSTRATION 59 (SL-48182-SL-48240)


722.446 COL
ACC.No.    252

The Kashmir valley blessed with the natural boundaries is rightly celebrated as a valley of Gods. Apart from its natural beauty an added attraction are the ancient stone temples of Kashmir, noteworthy for unique architectural elements are fine stone carvings.

Buddhism was introduced in Kashmir soon after the Buddha’s demise and king Ashoka is said to have built stupas in the 3rd C.B.C. The Buddhist remains at Harwan, Hoinar and Hutamer have revealed unique tiles depicting the fine workman ship. With the background of Buddhist artistic tradition, Kashmiri artisans evolved a style of Hindu temple architecture with a distinct characteristic of its own. Kashmir temple exhibits a unique bland of foreign style and indigenous creativity that resulted in a distinctive architecture which was more suited to their geographic and climate conditions.

The temple at Lodhu situated 20 kms from Srinagar is in midst of a spring. The springs are considered to be scared sites. The temple is said to be earliest remaining stone structure. The next stage in the temple architecture development may be studied in the Sankracharya temple. In the temple at Narasthan in District Pulwama, the pediment and arch motif is in process of development. Triangular canopies, sunken Trefoil niches and the enclosure wall around with prominent gateway is an approach to the final form of Hindu temple architecture of Kashmir.

Laltaditya built the famous and elegant temple at Martand and Parihaskesva at his capital Parihaspara. The Sun temple of Martand stands in the middle of a large courtyard having 86 fluted columns. The temple proper contains garbhagraha, antarala and closed mandapa, approached by a grand flight of steps. The pliant supporting the central shrine has  two tiers, both with niches having 37 divine figures.

The second golden age of temple building was brought into being by the patronage of king Avantivarman the founder of Utpla dynasty. The king built two temples one dedicated to Shiva and other dedicated to Vishnu. The final refinement of form and a more polished look may be seen in a group of temples erected by Sankaravarman who succeeded Avantivarman.

The offshoot of the Kashmir style of architecture is found in Northern Punjab and North West frontier. The influences are also found in the Western Himalayan architecture from Ladakh to Nepal.

The elements of ancient Hindu architecture of Kashmir which were buried a millennium ago resurfaced in the form of Muslim shrines and residential houses in succeeding periods. The traditions together with the geographical conditions play a vital role in shaping the Kashmiri character.